Let us talk about lettuce. We are all familiar with the leafy greens of lettuce, though they come in reds, purples, and vast shades of green, too. Lettuce can be loosely divided into four groups- butterhead, cos (or romaine), loose-leaf, and crisphead. Within each variety are multitude of shapes, texture and flavours, each with unique properties and growing preferences. Ancient lettuce was more weed-like and sap filled- you know the milky sap near the thicker base of the leaves, especially when a lettuce begins to age? Before lettuce varieties were so highly cultivated, that sap had a narcotic-like effect, helping to induce sleep. Lettuce would often be eaten at the end of a meal to create a sense of calm and lull to sleep. As lettuce was more widely grown that soporific effect lessened and the stems gave way to bitter leaves, leading eventually to lettuces often being consumed at the beginning of a meal to kickstart digestion, dressed in oils to make them more palatable- leading to today’s version of a salad.
While many times lettuce is used as a bit of a sad afterthought to a salad or sandwich, a good fresh lettuce can greatly improve a simple meal with flavour, texture and nutritional value. Today's recipe is not actually for lettuce per se, but a fantastic way to wrap it up and get the whole family eating some of these fresh spring greens when salads alone aren’t floating the boat.
For that matter, the flour tortilla recipe that follows is not only a star for containing myriad types of lettuce, but is a bit like Mary Poppins' magic satchel- fresh lettuce, beans or meat, roasted or raw vegetables with spicy salsa and cheese is a hearty burrito; crunchy greens, olives, hummus, veg are a slamming salad wrap; grilled flat with cheese and a layer of leftover veggies and protein and you have yourself a quesadilla; heck, go wild and sprinkle with cinnamon and apples and you are onto the sweet note. Sure, you can always use store bought flour tortillas, but these are fairly easy to make, they skip the obligatory preservatives found in the plastic wrapped option, and taste so dang good!
3 Cups Flour (I used a spelt and rye mix, but plain ol' flour will do just fine)
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 generous Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Cup Warm Water
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The How To:
Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Dissolve sea salt in warm water, then add olive oil to the water. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a semi cohesive shaggy mass. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the ball for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is really nice, smooth, and elastic. Divide dough into 8 roughly equal balls. Gently flatten with your palm, then cover the flattened circles with a clean cloth and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes or up to a couple hours- fit it into your life as necessary. Once dough has 'rested' and you're ready to proceed, use a rolling pin or a long bottle in a pinch to roll the dough out, using a dusting of flour to keep the dough from sticking. You want a large, thin circle less than 2mm thick. Heat a large dry pan over medium-high. Place the tortilla into the pan and cook for around 1 minute, or until the surface is bubbly. Flip tortilla over and cook an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until both sides are a nice golden brown. If the bubble spots are charring, turn the heat down a bit. Transfer cooked tortilla to a clean cloth and wrap; the cloth will keep the tortillas warm and pliable, and allow them to steam. Continue cooking tortillas and adding to the cozy tortilla bundle until all 8 are done. Time to fill your tortillas with the goods!
We loaded them up with the tastiest lettuce, oven roasted vegetables, black beans, a quick blender salsa with fresh coriander and hot sauce.
-Double or triple the recipe and make extra to freeze, layered with baking paper or some such to keep tortillas from sticking to one another. Great to have on hand in a pinch!
-If you’d like smaller tortillas simply divide the dough into more pieces, ie 14 or 16 rather than 8.
-Yep, you could always skip the tortilla and simply use the lettuce as a wrap- I have and will, but the biggest and littlest eaters in my house will always eat more greens if they are wrapped up in tortilla or bread, and they’ll stay full longer.